9 New Theme Parks, Rides, and Experiences to Get Excited for in 2021
Disney rides, Super Nintendo World, and brand-new Universal and Legoland theme parks are all on the horizon for 2021.
2020 was a tough year across the board for the travel industry, and widespread shutdowns and travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to indefinite closures of the world's most-visited theme parks. Many of these parks have since reopened with new health and safety measures in place, but some of their most exciting and innovative projects were put on hold. That means there's a lot to look forward to in 2021, from the debut of a "Ratatouille"-themed attraction at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park, to a Super Nintendo World opening at Universal Studios Japan, to a brand-new Legoland resort opening just 60 miles from New York City. Get your Mickey ears and lightsabers ready — here are all the 2021 theme park openings we're excited about.
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Walt Disney World Resort
Remy's Ratatouille Adventure
The beloved 2007 Pixar film "Ratatouille" is getting its first U.S. ride, set to open in Epcot's France pavilion this year (a version of this trackless dark ride first debuted at Disneyland Paris in 2014). Riders will shrink down to mouse size and go on a fun, family-friendly adventure through the culinary world of Remy and his pals. "Harmonious," a new nighttime spectacular coming to Epcot, is also set to debut this year.
Other Upcoming Disney World Projects
Get your lightsabers ready and prepare for a journey to a galaxy far, far away. The highly anticipated Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is getting ready to welcome its first passengers aboard the Halcyon for a fully immersive experience unlike anything we've ever seen. The two-night experience is coming soon, and we couldn't be more excited to live our own Star Wars adventures. Guests can explore the ship, hone their lightsaber skills, sip drinks in the Silver C Lounge, and even watch as galactic sights fly by from the space window in their cabins. The experience also includes an excursion to nearby Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, where guests can experience Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
These aren't the only new attractions and experiences coming to Disney World in the near future, but the opening dates for other highly anticipated rides are currently unknown. Although we don't have dates for these ride openings, both Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot and Tron Lightcycle/Run at Magic Kingdom have seen substantial construction in the past year. Also on our radar is "The Princess and the Frog"-themed attraction that will take over Splash Mountain (currently, Splash Mountain is operating as is, and we don't know when this change will happen.)
Snow White's Enchanted Wish
An original opening-day attraction that first debuted when Disneyland Park opened in 1955, Snow White's Scary Adventures has been transformed into Snow White's Enchanted Wish. The updated dark ride uses new technology to breathe fresh life into the classic attraction, and the new name implies a more cheerful take on the original. Guests can expect to experience Snow White's Enchanted Wish when Disneyland Park reopens, according to a post on the Disney Parks Blog, although we don't know when that will be.
Originally set to open in July 2020, Avengers Campus will debut upon the reopening of Disney California Adventure Park. This superhero-themed land is a Marvel fan's dream come true, with two attractions — Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout, which opened in 2017, and Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure, a new ride — character encounters, and even themed food and merchandise.
Jurassic World VelociCoaster
A thrilling new roller coaster is set to open this summer at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park at Universal Orlando Resort. Two launches, a 360-degree barrel roll above the lagoon, and Universal's steepest coaster drop are just a few of the heart-pounding elements brave guests will experience on this Jurassic World-themed ride.
Universal Studios Hollywood
"The Secret Life of Pets": Off the Leash
Originally scheduled to open in the spring of 2020, "The Secret Life of Pets": Off the Leash ride at Universal Studios Hollywood is now set to welcome its first riders whenever the theme park reopens. Based on the animated film, the innovative new ride features facial recognition and gesture tracking to identify guests as stray puppies during their journey through the streets of New York City while inside ride vehicles that resemble cardboard boxes.
Universal Studios Japan
Super Nintendo World
One of the year's most anticipated theme park openings is less than a month away. Guests can jump into the colorful and interactive world of Mario and friends at Super Nintendo World, the newest addition at Universal Studios Japan. This new themed land opens on Feb. 4, kicking off the park's 20th anniversary celebration. Walk through Princess Peach's castle and step into the heart of everyone's favorite video games. You can even ride Mario Kart and Yoshi-themed attractions and snack on adorable Nintendo-inspired snacks.
Universal Beijing Resort
Universal Beijing Resort — comprised of the Universal Studios Beijing theme park, Universal CityWalk Beijing, Universal Studios Grand Hotel, and the Nuo Resort Hotel — is scheduled to open this year, combining popular Universal attractions and film franchises with new experiences "designed to reflect China's cultural heritage," according to a release shared with Travel + Leisure. The theme park will feature seven themed lands, including the wildly popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, the first Kung Fu Panda-themed land where guests will find Kung Fu Panda Journey of the Dragon Warrior, a unique flume ride.
Legoland New York Resort is set to open in 2021 in New York's Hudson Valley after its 2020 opening date was delayed amid the pandemic. Located 60 miles northwest of NYC, the theme park will have seven different themed lands and over 50 family-friendly shows, rides, and attractions, including the Lego Factory Adventure Ride, an innovative dark ride that will transform guests into Lego minifigures. The resort's Legoland Hotel is currently under construction, too, so families can look forward to spending a day or two experiencing the attractions, snacking on the park's famous apple fries, and of course, playing with plenty of Legos once the resort opens to guests later this year.
Elizabeth Rhodes is an associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure who loves all things theme parks. Follow her adventures on Instagram @elizabetheverywhere.